_I'm a little upset as I had just finished a great article for you all to enjoy and as I was trying to finalize the post I lost it all.  I don't know how, I don't know where, it just got wiped out!  DAMN YOU TECHNOLOGY!

So, I'll try to recreate as best as I remember.  I'm sure the second time around will not be quite as good:

Tonight's beer is a special presentation, buy one get one!  Its a story of time.  Last night I wrote about beers being brewed to age.  Yes, certain style beers are meant to be brewed and aged before drank.  I have never been very successful with aging beers; I like them to much and end up drinking them before they get to be more then a few days old.  The only beer I've successfully aged myself is a few years of home brews a friend of mine and I were brewing a few years back.  Sadly, that was a about 3 years ago and all my barley wine home brews are gone (barley wines are a favorite of mine and for another time - but if you are not sure they are most definitely a beer).  I am lucky enough to have a few good friends out there.  Of those good friends a few are beer friends, and one particular friend C.D. affectionately known as Nik to me was routing around his basement and found a version of beer from '09.  I happened to have an '11 in stock just waiting to be drank so I happily accepted.  I'm not sure of his beer "storage" area but I assume he stored it as appropriately as possible and the aging process was not wrecked with spikes in temperatures and sunlight.

So, enough of the garbage talk, lets get to the beer.  The beer I'm drinking tonight is a GREAT LAKES BREWERY Burning River APA.  It is 6% alcohol beer so nothing light about this.  On first impression, I notice nothing noticeably different between these two beers years.  The bottles are identical from the purple ribbon around the top, the wording on the bottle that talks of this beers history of the burning river in Ohio, to the label and picture of Cleveland and the fire coming from the river.  These bottles have not changed at all.  Once I poured the two beers into identical tasting glasses I immediately start to notice the difference.  The aroma from one is most definitely a stronger hoppy note, where the other is a bit more tame and sweet maltiness.  You can definitely smell a difference of age between the two.  The older '09 definitely hits you in the nose saying the malts have prevailed and will win the battle of this beer if given just enough time.  The second most obvious difference to me was the color.  The younger more immature '11 pup was a more bright yellow clear tint with a TON of gushing bubbly carbonation flowing through the beer as if there was an air filter in the bottom of the glass continuously flowing.  The '09 on the other hand, shows a more refined age, and shows a much more handsome brown'sh yellow... almost amber but not quite.  The carbonation shows in the glass but it is hidden by the darker tint of the beer.  The head on the two beers were even different.  On the '11, there was a thin covering of white head that sat on top of the beer as if the 'pretty boy beer' was going for some sort of 5'oclock shadow.  Where the more mature '11 has a very small almost none existent film across the top of the beer; almost as if it thinks being clean is a more professional look.

More important then anything - do they taste different?  As a matter of fact they do!  The younger '11 Burning River definitely screams of HOPS.  It is bitey and spicey.  You get the tingle of the hops on your tongue and the acidic oils of the hoppy goodness screaming through every sip.  The malts really never seem to show up till just before you swallow the beer.  They add a hint of sweetness in the finish that tells you, if you keep this beer around long enough you'll get a much more balanced and more centered brew.  All told it is a very nice and balanced malt to hop ratio with the balance a little in favor of the hops for sure.  It is definitely light and crisp and refreshing on the tongue.  Almost sort of a thin quality to it that would make it incredible for a hot summer evening get together by a camp fire.

Now, the '09 to me really presents as a much more refined, clean, smooth, solid beer.  The mouth feel is a little thicker and maltier.  It is sweet and sticks to your tongue and sides of your mouth more.  You still get the hoppy goodness but they are much more mellow and balanced out by a sweeter maltier body that shows that it knows how to take charge.  I would call this '09 equally balanced between hops and malts.  The carbonation seems to have calmed down a lot more and it almost presents it self in a more refined feel suchas a fine scotch or bourbon.  I think this beer at '09 is looking for a nice cigar to compliment it as you sit back relax and watch the day pass you by on some remote beach.  There is a side of me that thinks . o O ( wait, this beer almost tastes off, the smell isn't quite right, the hops are gone, it isn't really an APA any more... it is refined.  I mean I'm no professional beer taster here am I?  Maybe this beer is skunked.... what if this beer was BETTER 6 months ago and it is on its way down... maybe 10 months ago is really when I should have been enjoying this '09... ) O o . when I finally stop, and come to my senses I smack myself.  I'm no beer snob.  NO, I enjoy beer.  I enjoy some cheap beers.  And there has been some REALLY expensive beers that I have hated.  So, I come back to earth and realize why I'm doing this blog.  It is for me to find beers I LIKE.  And I LIKE this '09!  It is solid, it is mild, it is almost an oaky/woody backbone to it even though this beer surely never touched any barrels in the whole production.  Though, it got me thinking - what if Great Lakes did that; or what if they do?  I should look for that.  If this was an aged - cask conditioned Burning River... Oh my!

Anyway, thanks for listening.  I want to thank my friend C.D. for giving me the '09 to taste (and make this a two for one night).  I also want to thank my friend B.G. for re-introducing me to Pale Ales.  This particular Great Lakes is one of his favorites and I ALMOST feel guilty sitting here with out him drinking these two brews.  I'm sure he understands.  Please take a look at the photo shoot of these two beers below.  Tell me what you think, I'm trying to work on my photography skills.  The subjects as different in tasting were difficult to shoot.  The colors in the pics do not come through quite as vividly as I feel I could see in person.  But, I lend that to the '09 being a hard ass and just not cooperating as nicely as the '11 did.  Please enjoy!
 





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